About three years ago, my sister participated in something that I really didn’t want to do myself. She ordered an ancestry tracing DNA kit to find out what exactly was our genetic makeup. What she discovered was that we were 100 percent Irish in our ancestry, hailing from the west of Ireland.
To be honest, I really don’t know all that much about my ancestors prior to my grandparents. I would love to know more about who the people throughout history were that made up my family tree, but that’s a project for another day.

This Sunday in the Octave of Christmas, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, comprised of Our Lord Jesus, His Immaculate Mother, the Virgin Mary and her Most Chaste Spouse, Saint Joseph. Perhaps we can use this day to call to mind our own families. For better, or sadly in some cases, for worse, they helped form and shape us into the person we are. The Lord Jesus himself comes from a particular family, at a particular time, and so do we.

Realizing this might help us live our vocations because it can remind us that we are standing on the shoulders of giants; on the solid rock formation that the people who came before us and lived happily, healthily and holy the Christian vocations that we strive to live each day. I didn’t invent the priesthood, nor did any one consecrated woman or man invent religious life, nor did any one Christian invent baptism. It comes from the Lord, the source of all good gifts. We have the example of those who came before us to strengthen us, to encourage us, and yes, to help us learn from their mistakes. Today, at this Eucharist, through the intercession of Mary and Joseph, let’s thank God for the gift of our families, our ancestors, our parishes and faith communities. Truly, we stand on the shoulders of giants of our faith, who helped bring us to where we are at this moment.

Father Cush is a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn who serves as Academic Dean of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy. He is the author of The How-To-Book of Catholic Theology (Our Sunday Visitor Press, 2020).